How Natty Boh Became Baltimore’s Beer
Welcome to part two of this three-part series on famous local brands. Last week we looked at Smyth Jewelers; its iconic billboard featuring Mr. Boh (of National Bohemian Beer) and Salie Utz (of Utz Snacks) brought three brands together in one of the most creative yet obvious ways possible.
Beer, chips and…marriage? It makes perfect sense to me!
If none of this is making sense to you, please read last week’s post and come back…I’ll wait.
Got it? Good! To sum it up, the MGH advertising agency utilized a brilliant marketing plan to attract a coveted demographic – 20-to-30-year-olds – to Smyth Jewelers. They used inexpensive items – beer and snacks – to lure in new customers for a very expensive item – an engagement ring.
They didn’t use just any beer, either. MGH decided to go with National Bohemian – Baltimore’s beer – to advertise that Smyth is where Baltimore gets engaged.
Pairing Natty Boh with Utz of Hanover solidified a stellar campaign strategy.
Let’s briefly look at how National Bohemian became Baltimore’s beer, giving it an almost cult-like following.
Photo courtesy of National Bohemian Facebook page
As you can see (it’s written on the can), Natty Bo has been around since 1885 when it was first brewed by the National Brewing Company in Baltimore. In 1933, the iconic one-eyed mascot we all know and love was born. In the 1940s, National was the first brewer in the U.S. to distribute its product in a six-pack of cans. In the 1950s, the slogan “From the Land of Pleasant Living” was created and used on cans and bottles to describe Maryland.
In 1965, National Bohemian became the official sponsor of the Orioles and was the only beer available for sale at Memorial Stadium, thus making it the official beer of Baltimore.
But 30 years later, the situation changed drastically. National Bohemian hasn’t been brewed in Maryland since 1996, and was sold to a Russian company in 2014. It doesn’t seem to matter where Natty Boh is brewed, as long as the beer is still cold and cheap. Baltimore is nothing if not loyal to its brands, accounting for 90 percent of all sales as recently as 2011 (the first year Natty Boh was available on tap since 1996).
In fact, it wasn’t until after the beer left Baltimore that Mr. Boh was featured prominently around the city. In 2004, Obrecht Commercial Real Estate, Inc., a full-service development firm, wanted to attract new tenants to its buildings – one being the old National Brewing complex – and placed a giant Mr. Boh sign atop the old brewery.
The “Natty Boh Tower” is now a unique and irreplaceable part of the landscape of Brewers Hill in Canton.
It wasn’t until 2007 that the famous Smyth billboard went up in Baltimore.
Next week, I’ll conclude this series by taking a closer look at the female character on the Smyth billboard – Salie Utz from Hanover, PA.
Did you know that Natty Boh was no longer brewed in Baltimore? Does it matter to you? Just how strong is your brand loyalty? Comment below!